The Daily's 10 albums to pick up this semester
Spring needs Fleet Foxes like flowers need admirers. Because really, what’s the point of natural beauty if nobody celebrates it with art?
Luckily enough, we will have such a record just in time to divert our attention away from studying for midterms to notice the little plant life blooming all across the South Oval garden. Plenty of other artists will be vying for our college-aged attentions as well — be they electronic, acoustic, pop, indie, hip-hop or rock ‘n’ roll.
Two of The Daily’s music fiends got together and compiled a list of our most anticipated releases this semester. So, break out your calendars and headphones and let’s get to it.
Judging by how snarky he was between songs at his band’s 2008 Austin City Limits set, lead singer Robin Pecknold is probably the one tweeting from the @Fleetfoxes account. Unfortunately, he’s not as forthcoming as @kanyewest, so we can only speculate on the sequel to the band’s lovely eponymous debut.
Expect plenty of multi-part harmonies, classical instruments and lyrics about natural beauty. Date to be announced.
(R & S)
Don’t freak out if you haven’t heard of this 21-year-old Londoner, but do circle that release date on your calendar with your boldest, brightest pen. Blake’s trio of 2010 EPs showcased a lot of talent in the fields of sampling, dubstep and minimalist dance music.
If the initial singles making the rounds online — “Wilhelms Scream” and the Feist cover “Limit To Your Love” — are any indicators, then we may just have 2011’s greatest work of high art on our hard drives.
Cut Copy are the poor man’s LCD Sound System, which is a compliment. Rumors abound that “Zonoscope” will be just as playful and positive as 2008’s dance-rock LP “In Ghost Colours,” and leaked track “Take Me Over” confirms the prognosis. It’s cheesy enough to make even David Byrne blush.
With its hip-slapping tambourines and dreamy lyrics, “Zonoscope” is ready-made for a dorm-room dance party.
Largely due to label disputes, Lupe Fiasco hasn’t dropped an album in more than three years. He’ll change that in March with his third studio album, “Lasers.” The Modest Mouse-inspired first single, “The Show Goes On,” has had quite a buzz since its release in October and subsequent video in December.
Lupe said the album will be a little more commercial than his previous works, but don’t expect that to hamper his outstanding lyrical ability. This is the album hip-hop fans should look forward to most in 2011.
Due out March 8.
Collapse Into Now
After 15 studio records, R.E.M. probably appeals more to college faculty than students. But that doesn’t make early releases like “Überlin” and “Mine Smell Like Honey” any less meaningful.
Bassist Mike Mills told Spin magazine to expect an introspective record with a lot of personality in the characters. “There are some really slow, beautiful songs; there are some nice, mid-tempo ones; and then there are three or four rockers,” Mills said. An impressive list of collaborators includes Canadian singer Peaches, Patti Smith and Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder.
Due out March 7.
Kanye West and Jay-Z
Watch the Throne
(Def Jam Recordings)
Kanye West isn’t just on top of hip-hop right now, he’s on top of music following “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.”
Jay-Z has always been near the top. With that in mind, these two should combine for a solid project with “Watch the Throne.”
However, the first single “H.A.M” was far from outstanding. The song has a cool beat, but the lyrics in the rappers’ verses seem rushed and sloppy.
One has to hope that Kanye and Jay don’t let their egos get in the way of working hard on this project. Fan expectations are high, but if “H.A.M” is any indication, those expectations might be shattered.
Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang
Raekwon the Chef is set to release his fifth studio album — “Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang” — this March, and he’s already given it a lot of praise. He maintains the title is not an attempt to disrespect Wu-Tang, but shows that he’s getting back to his “history of being an emcee first.”
He says the album will showcase the street side of him, “challenging the great side of Wu-Tang.” However, from the songs that have been released already, such as “Butter Knives,” I can see that it will still have that Wu-Tang feel.
With guests like Busta Rhymes, Ghostface Killah, Method Man and Nas, Raekwon is certain to come with a great album.
Due out March 8.
“I remember when we used to play this song in empty bars,” Julian Casablancas said a split-second before his band kicked into the nostalgia-snorter “Someday” in front of tens of thousands of fans at Austin City Limits last fall.
It’s been that kind of bar-band-to-rock-gods journey for The Strokes, who named Angles after its approach to recording the band’s first record in five years.
“It comes from five different people,” guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. told Rolling Stone magazine. Rolling Stone critic David Fricke called it “reassuring” for fans of the band’s debut album, “Is This It.” Good news, indeed.
Due out March 21.
The Lonely Island
Only two comedy albums in and Andy Samberg’s gang are already rehashing the same song structures with new collaborators and lyrics. Good thing that doesn’t make their antics any less funny. T-Pain and Akon might as well be interchangeable on “I’m On A Boat” and “I Just Had Sex,” but that’s the point — pop music is always fundamentally the same, even when the names and faces change.
As long as they keep employing collaborators like Rihanna and Jack Black properly, these guys will keep bringing the funny.
Born This Way
If you thought Lady Gaga was just some dance-pop freaker with a penchant for Muppet-poaching, then read what she told the BBC about “Born This Way” in January. “The album’s music combines electronic music with these sort of major, epic — I dare to even say metal — rock ’n’ roll, pop, anthemic styles... melodies with really sledgehammering dance beats,” Gaga said.
If she makes good on that promise, the rest of the world may just join up with her “little monsters.”
Due out May 23.